Create a Custom Default User Profile for OS X 10.7/10.8

Jason WatkinsIT Project Leader
Create a default user profile for Mac OS X 10.7/10.8

Create a user account on OS X that will be a template for every other user of that computer. I usually call it “profile” and make it an administrator account for the time being.

1. Install and configure all applications as desired. It is important to run each program under the profile account. This will skip many of the annoying first-run prompts users will see with things like iCloud and Mozilla Firefox. Be patient with this step and take as much time as it needs.

At this point, a substantial amount of work has been invested in the Mac. I take some time to backup the work and create a disk image of the hard drive.

2. Make the “Profile” account the default profile for all users on the Mac.

3. While logged-in as “Profile”, empty the trash and delete the application caches along with "Profile's" login keychain.

4. Enable the built-in root user account, from the Directory Services console.

5. Log in as the root user (Be very careful while using the root user account).

6. Show all files in the Finder / sudo defaults write AppleShowAllFiles YES

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7. Also from the terminal, make a backup copy of the existing default user profile
cp -R /System/Library/User\ Template/English.lprog/ /System/Library/User\ Template/English.orig

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8. Remove the current contents of the default user profile
sudo rm -rf /System/Library/User\ Template/English.lproj/*

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9. Copy “Profile’s” profile to the default
sudo cp- R /Users/profile/* /System/Library/User\ Template/English.lproj/*

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10. Reboot and try logging on as a user that does not already have an existing user profile. "Profile's" desktop, dock and settings should be there for the new user. There should be no prompts for iCloud, or for a keychain password.

11. Once everything is working as it should, disable the root user account. A disabled root user account is one of OS X's more secure attributes.

Since there is a decent amount of work as root and in sensitive areas of the operating system, I encourage the practice of making disk images during various steps of the process. A wrong tick or command, here, can render OS X unstable at best.
Jason WatkinsIT Project Leader

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